Festival der Künste2021

Iwan Alexandrowitsch Gontscharow: Oblomov

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Iwan Alexandrowitsch Gontscharow: Oblomov | © Akiko Okamoto
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Iwan Alexandrowitsch Gontscharow: Oblomov | © Akiko Okamoto

When the first lockdown began in 2020, I thought it might be a good idea to read Proust’s In Search of Lost Time (aka A Remembrance of Things Past) in a single sitting. To date, I had only read four volumes and then had not found the time to read it in one go although I enjoyed the novel very much. However, the lockdown progressed very differently for me: I suddenly received one inquiry after another, mostly for translation jobs. I was busy day and night handling the assignments. So, the lockdown did not bring peace and quiet or a slow-down into my life, but more months of intense work. There was no time and no leisure to dedicate to Proust’s long novel. One evening a friend mentioned the name Ivan Alexandrowitsch Gontscharow to me when I told him of my partiality for Dostojewski. Almost immediately, I ordered Oblomov. Compared to Proust’s Lost Time, the novel is amazingly brief (= only three volumes in Japanese). I was so enthralled that I read it in three days. Day and night, I was lying on the bed, read and caught some naps in between. It was absolutely wonderful – as if I’d embarked on a trip to a different country or into an entirely different world. This dual indolence – mine and Oblomov’s – was so rich…

Akiko Okamoto, Düsseldorf, 15 April 2021